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McKay School Students Attend Utah NAME Conference

In February, the Utah National Association of Multicultural Education (NAME) conference was held at Utah Valley University. The conference was led by a group of featured panelists all with diverse educational and community backgrounds. Here's a little more about them:

  • Michelle Love-Day has been an educator for more than 15 years, working as a 2nd-grade teacher, assistant principal, principal, and most recently as the assistant director of the Department of Educational Equity in the Granite School District.

  • John Arthur is a sixth-grade teacher and 2021 National Teacher of the Year finalist, as well as the 2021 Utah State Teacher of the Year.

  • Dr. Christelle Estrada is the Secondary Language Arts Specialists at Utah State Office of Education.

  • Mauli Junior Bonner is a screenplay writer who runs the nonprofit Lift up Voices, which provides resources to marginalized communities and support and scholarships for at-risk teenagers.

This group of panelists spoke on the profound impact that education has had on them and how it has guided them to where they are now. Their responses really impacted me.

When asked what inspired him to do the work, John Arthur spoke about a time in his life when he felt he had no purpose. He stopped going to school as he felt it wasn't for him. One day he had a realization and changed his trajectory, and from that day on, he firmly believes that “it is easier to build up strong children than to repair broken men.” As educators a huge part of our jobs is to uplift our students and to hold them accountable for their own learning and their own growth before it is too late.

When asked the same question, Michelle Love-Day spoke about the students. She pointed out that regardless of what we see or don't see, there are marginalized students that are being stripped of who they are. It is our job to look at the students and parents who need us and help them by creating a safe space that allows them to be their best self.

Our job as educators doesn’t just stop with our students. We also must make sure that our students' parents feel as though they belong and are welcomed in their children's educational journey, but they can't do it in an unsafe environment. This group of incredible panelists answered tough questions and helped reignite that passion I have for teaching, and although, as they mentioned, teaching is a hard job, it is also one of the most rewarding jobs you can have. Being a part of my future student’s trajectory is ultimately what inspires me to keep going.

Fortunately for me, the learning didn’t just stop with these panelists! After the discussion we were able to go to a table or room of our choice and discuss one of many issues that can affect a student's learning. I had the privilege of attending the low socio-economic/poverty matters table and was able to learn so much. I learned about equitable teaching practices in the classroom and how they can help close the opportunity gap that many of our students face in the classroom.

As a preservice teacher, the Utah NAME Conference was such a wonderful experience that helped me gather important resources and information that I will one day be able to implement in my class!

-Alex Llanas

If you have any questions about the conference or want to find out more about the McKay school, meet with a student ambassador here!

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